File Photo – COVID-19 Testing | Photo: Jakayla Toney (via Unsplash)

The McHenry County coroner is disputing the number of COVID-19 deaths in McHenry County, saying that the number is 53% less than what the health department reported.

McHenry County Coroner Dr. Michael Rein on Tuesday released his office’s statistics on COVID deaths.

His data shows 150 deaths in 2020, 112 in 2021 and 65 in 2022 — which is a total of 327 since the pandemic began.

Rein said a recent article was posted in a local media outlet that reported 29 deaths happened between June 2022 and December 2022.

That article, titled “McHenry County reports 29 additional COVID-19 deaths since June,” was published by the Northwest Herald on December 30.

Rein said his office only recorded 10 deaths — not 29 — during this period.

The article attributed the data to the McHenry County Department of Health.

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The health department has reported 566 “McHenry County deaths” from COVID-19 since the pandemic began, which is 53% higher than the coroner’s statistics of 327 total deaths.

The coroner said his office is notified anytime a suspected COVID death occurs in McHenry County.

“Whether it is a hospital, hospice, nursing home, assisted living or at a person’s resident, the McHenry County Coroner Office is contacted, and this becomes a Coroner Case,” Rein said.

The coroner’s office requests all medical records from the facilities related to COVID and other health issues.

The coroner’s office then makes the final decision if a person died due to COVID, Rein said.

“This practice was put in place, by Sheriff Prim during his short term as Coroner, since statistics of the pandemic of COVID deaths started and has continued to this day,” Rein added.

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McHenry County Department of Health spokeswoman Lindsey Salvatelli said the health department investigates all death certificates for McHenry County residents whether the death occurred in the county, rest of the state, country or internationally.

If COVID is listed on the death certificate as an immediate cause of death, underlying cause of death or significant condition contributing to death, the health department investigates them, Salvatelli said.

Salvatelli said the department then confirms that a positive lab result, not a home test, was received within the last 12 months and that the person died from illness or complications from the illness. Medical records are also reviewed.